Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas
Garden of the Gods - Colorado
2006

"I've been scraping little shavings off my ration of light."
--Bruce Cockburn, "Isn't That What Friends Are For"

It's been a warm December here near the bottom of Florida. There's something about Christmas and air conditioning that just seems a bit oddly equatorial instead of elfishly polar. Still, good cheer and goodwill is more the theme of the season. Temperature and humidity are just circumstances overshadowed by sweet light, laughter and kindnesses shared.

I was with friends a few nights back. We were streaming a video of a yule log burning in a fireplace over Netflix. I stared into the fire, thinking about how images often take us to places in our memories; this connection is what bridges the gap between a flat image and one that touches you in some way - means something to you.

Memories are tricky travelling companions. Our mind's data and storage computers often record little videos that are a strange blend of sensory and binary input: smell, light, shadow, sound, touch. These videos, much like their pre-digital counterparts, often do not age well, becoming at best, wispy illusions. Reality shifts with interpretation and time. This is part of what makes the art in photography so exciting to me - and an equally scary conundrum. Despite fluctuations in technology, the ability of your art to evoke human responses so often comes down to something you cannot really teach or explain.

Yesterday, I was working on photo editing with my young friend and photographer, Matt Milligan, and in our hilariously rambling photography discussion, I tried to explain how all photographs are essentially "sweet lies". They are illusions. As photographers, artists and humans, we can be literal or abstract. Either way, in any form, we are interpreting our own realities. And our realities are anchored by our memories. This helps us understand how, like the snowflake cliche', no two humans can be alike.

Having more than paid my snow dues, I have a mountainous snowbank of white Christmas memories. During this warm December, far away from the chill of holiday seasons past, I light a candle scented with balsam fir, say a prayer for kindness, understanding, peace and love, and revel in how blessed I am.

May your holidays also be blessed with memories - both old and new - of exquisite light, love and laughter.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 24-120mm VR, a retreating snowstorm, a solid gold memory